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David Shields, Wavemaker South Africa's Digital Lead is heading to Tokyo.
David Shields, Wavemaker South Africa's Digital Lead is heading to Tokyo.
Image: Supplied/Wavemaker

Wavemaker SA’s digital lead and business unit head, David Shields, has started a new position at the GroupM and Wavemaker Japan offices in Tokyo.  

His move embodies the advertising agency’s priority of pushing global mobility in its business, and its vision of creating a truly diverse network of people across its international offices. 

Tokyo brings with it a promotion for Shields.

He’ll be a digital director at Wavemaker Japan and will be responsible for a larger team with more international clients, which he’ll be helping to penetrate the Japanese market. 

Shields became a permanent part of Wavemaker SA in 2019, first as a digital strategist and later as a member of the account management, business development and business unit head teams. 

“My growth at Wavemaker has been immense,” Shields says.

“The executive team has taught me so much about being a team player and how to lead and mentor. I’m so proud of the many first-to-markets we’ve achieved and I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to work with clients such as Netflix and Astron Energy, which has pushed my skills to new heights.”

Shields says his move to Tokyo was partly prompted by the pandemic. “With Covid, something shifted for me and my partner in terms of the kind of life we want to lead.

“We realised we want to challenge ourselves personally and professionally, and taking a new opportunity in Tokyo sounded like a great way to do it.”

While Shields is aware that learning about this new market will be a steep learning curve for him, he believes the media industry is about human connection. “Once you’ve got that right, everything follows.”

His experience with Wavemaker Global’s Provocative Planning operating system will also stand him in good stead.

“I’ll still be drawing on inspiration and methods from different parts of the world and I have no doubt my experience in SA will prove invaluable,” Shields says. 

While Shields will be missed by his SA team, they support his move.

“We are sad to see David go but are pleased that he will still be part of the wider Wavermaker team,” says Merissa Himraj, CEO of Wavemaker in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We have no doubt that he will be a rich asset to our colleagues in Japan.”

“David has a great blend of platform knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit,” says Michael Beecroft, CEO of GroupM in Japan. “Injecting him into the Wavemaker Japan team will bring fresh ideas, perspective and energy.”

“As GroupM and Wavemaker Japan grow, we need to ensure a great balance of local knowledge, culture and connections, but also international best practice, learning and innovation,” says Beecroft. 

“Global mobility gives us and our people a huge opportunity to share our unique experiences and knowledge, and to provide the broadest spectrum of solutions for our clients.”

Shields’s work has begun remotely for now and he and his partner will move to Tokyo as soon as Covid-19 regulations permit it.

While his new position is permanent, Shields says that SA will always be home.

He looks forward to returning one day with new insights, experience and skills on how advertising and media can be used to promote hope and conscious consumption the world over.

This article was paid for by Wavemaker.